Elation is the one word that best describes the reaction of Galt High School officials to the results of this year's California Standards Test results released by the state Department of Education on Monday. Students at the academically troubled school improved significantly at every level in this year's California Standards Test results.
Within the Lodi Unified School District, scores did not appear to drastically increase, though modest gains were made in areas such as high school English.
The California Standards Test, given to students in grades 2-11, tell schools how successfully they are meeting curriculum requirements imposed at the state level.
The improvement marks a victory for Galt High School, which has been monitored by the state for issues in academic performance since earlier this year.
Christine Hoffman, Galt High District superintendent, issued a press release summarizing the performance of Galt High students, who made a marked improvement over last year's scores.
"The Board of Trustees and I are elated to say the least," the press release read. "Our teachers and students showed what the real Galt High School is made of - excellence."
Parents and teachers can access the results of the California Standards Test, along with the California Achievement Test (CAT-6) and the California Alternate Performance Assessment Test (CAPA) which were also released Monday, at http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2004.
The STAR report cards, which give information for individual students will be sent to parents within a month, according to Paula Carroll, LUSD testing and evaluation coordinator.
|California Standard Test|
|District by District Breakdown|
|% of students below standards in English||% of students at or above standards in English||% of students below standards in Math||% of students at or above standards in Math|
Lodi Unified School District
|A = General math; B = Algebra I; C = Geometry; D = Algebra II; E = High school summative math - courses higher than Algebra II|
Galt Joint Union High School District
Galt Joint Union Elementary School District
New Hope School District
Oak View School District
* Indicates grade levels where math testing was broken into
The results of the California Standards Test shows which schools and school districts are meeting rigorous state curriculum requirements, and which schools may need to see improvements during the upcoming school year.
According to most local superintendents, what they've seen so far is promising, especially at Galt High where schools have been monitored at the state and county level.
But most district officials say that the biggest room for improvement involves closing the gaps between different subgroups of students, which includes English language learners, special education and economically disadvantaged students.
"One of the primary areas (of improvement) for us is trying to reduce the achievement gap between our different subgroups," Carroll said.
The tests will help teachers identify which students might have a learning disability or problem with the English Language, two of many factors that would contribute to lower test scores in a given subject.
At Galt Elementary District schools, math scores are generally higher than English scores because many students aren't familiar enough with the English language, according to Superintendent Jeff Jennings.
"Math takes the second language issue out of there," he said.
Jennings added that district schools still need to make improvements on advancing all students as far as possible before they make the move to middle school.
More than 4.7 million California students were tested in subjects relating to English Language Arts and mathematics, science and history. While most elementary school students focused on general English and math skills, students in higher grades were tested in one sub-category of math or science, such as Algebra I and II, geometry, earth science or chemistry.
"Once you hit eighth grade, math and science tests become program specific," said Carroll.
If a student is in the second semester of geometry, for example, they will be tested for that subject.
Scores were split up into one of five categories ranging from far below basic to advanced. The general state standard was set at the proficient mark - the second highest of the five levels - and includes scores from 350-396 out of a possible 600.
LUSD highs and lows
In LUSD, more than 21,000 students were tested, and though district officials have not had time to review the scores, they remain hopeful that schools will see an improvement in scores.
Statewide, fifth graders made the largest improvement, with 40 percent scoring proficient or advanced - 12 percentage points higher than 2001 and a four percent increase from last year.
Within LUSD, however, the biggest improvement was made in third grade math students, whose advanced and proficient percentage went from 37 percent in 2003 to 42 percent.
There was a marked decline, however, in ninth grade math, where proficiency went from 30 percent to 15 percent.
Other schools, like LUSD's Elkhorn Elementary School, performed consistently well on the CST. Students in grades 4-8 received mostly advanced and proficient scores. Both fourth and six graders achieved 100 percentage points in mathematics proficiency or above.
LUSD Superintendent Bill Huyett said that he had not yet analyzed specific results, but he was hopeful that efforts made in the past year to improve high school scores have paid off.
"We're hopeful about all schools," Huyett said, "But in the past year we've really been looking at focusing improvement in high schools in particular."
Once district officials have had time to analyze the data, they will meet with principals at the school level, said Carroll, to review the data of that school and determine what efforts need to be made to see improvement.
The CST scores are important because they figure into schools Academic Performance Index (API) a score used to qualify for federal improvement funds and help districts determine what school budgets will be.
If schools receive a low API, they can be monitored by the state, as was the case with Galt High and Elementary School districts in 2003.
Other district trends
At Oak View Union Elementary District in Acampo, the general scores look promising, according to Superintendent Bill Chiechi. Though the school usually performs well in language arts and math, Chiechi said the area that needed improvement last year was spelling, and that results given to principals, showing a breakdown into sub-categories, reflected a rise.
Oak View's STAR report also revealed a strong increase in eighth grade Algebra I performance, where 80 percent of students received an advanced or proficient score.
"We need to can that and sell it," Chiechi added. "If we can duplicate that next year, I'll be really happy."
Like LUSD, Galt's elementary schools tested better on the math portion of the exam than on the English portion, with the highest improvement also being in third grade math, where the percentage of advanced and proficient students jumped from 42 percent to 57 percent.
Jennings said that he will look closely at the scores of fifth graders, who will soon be sent to middle schools with tougher curriculum requirements, when administrators and staff meet before classes begin on Aug. 23.
The district saw a jump in fifth grade English advanced and proficient scores, from 35 percent to 48 percent. Jennings attributed this to programs like one developed at Fairsite Elementary, which had extra small-group instruction for students who performed poorly in reading.
"There's been a lot of effort to make sure they're ready for middle school," Jennings said of the fifth-grade scores. "But we haven't had time to determine exactly what's happening."
New Hope School District saw the biggest improvement in eighth grade English, where last year only seven percent of students met the state standard. This year, 23 percent of all students received advanced or proficient scores.
In addition to the CST, administrators will review students' CAT-6 scores to find out how their schools fared against other schools in the nation.
At Lodi Unified, 38 percent of all students scored above the national average in reading and 46 percent in math.
At Galt Elementary, 40 percent of all students scored above the national average in reading, 59 in math.
At the Galt High District, 53 percent off all students scored above that in reading, 51 in math. At Oak View, 59 of students performed above the national average for reading, 69 percent in math.